Updated: May 21, 2021
The NBA's Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament Starts Tonight, which means one team will be eliminated tonight. One team can clinch the No. 7 seed and Two teams will have a shot at the No. 8 seed.
The rules are as following:
The No. 7 seed and No. 8 seed will play each other and the winner clinches the #7 seed. The loser will have to win the next game to clinch the No. 8 seed.
The No. 9 seed and No. 10 seed will play each other, with the winner getting a shot at No. 8 seed and the loser will be eliminated.
The No. 7 seed will play Brooklyn in the first round and the No. 8 seed will play Philadelphia.
#9 Indiana (-1.5) vs #10 Charlotte (+1.5)
May 18, 6:30 p.m.
The Charlotte Hornets stumbled their way down the stretch, even with the return of rookie-of-the-year (ROY) candidate, LaMelo Ball. They lost their last five games. One win in the last five would have clinched the eight-seed and gave the Hornets a better shot at making the playoffs. They must get past an injured, but experienced Pacers team. The Hornets have been without their second leading scorer Gordon Hayward (19.6 PPG) since April 2. They will also be without reserve Cody Martin (Ankle). They will need an efficient scoring night out of their leading scorer Terry Rozier (20.4 PPG) and either Miles Bridges, Devonte' Graham, or Malik Monk.
The Pacers come into this game after defeating Toronto to secure the nine-seed. It has been an injury riddled season for the Pacers. TJ Warren broke his foot early in the season, Caris LeVert had a caner cell removed, Myles Turner is out for the year with foot issues. They shipped off former all-star Victor Oladipo for LeVert and other pieces. For tonight the injury list is still as long. LeVert (COVID Protocols) and Jeremy Lamb (Knee) will miss tonight's game. Malcom Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, Edmond Sumner, and Aaron Holiday are all questionable. Indiana will need Brogdon and Sabonis to play in order to win this game tonight. They will also need a contribution from either Justin Holiday, TJ McConnell, or Aaron Holiday to replace LeVert's scoring tonight.
Wait for the injury news. If Sabonis or Brogdon does not play, expect the Hornets to win. If they both play, then the Pacers experience and all-star Sabonis should be able to carry the Pacers to a slim victory.
#7 Boston (-2.5) vs #8 Washington (+2.5)
May 18, 9:00 p.m.
The Boston Celtics season can be summed up with one word, disappointing. Kemba Walker never seemed to stay healthy enough to find form. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown emerged as all-stars, but now Brown is out for the season with a hand injury. Marcus Smart is still Marcus Smart. Robert Williams has taken a nice jump in his third season, but is questionable for tonight's game with a toe injury. Payton Pritchard was a nice find late in the first-round of this years draft. For the Celtics to win tonight Walker, Jabari Parker and Evan Fournier will have to help Tatum lead the offense tonight. Two out of three of them will need to score some big baskets when Tatum rests. They will also need to figure out how to contain Russell Westbrook.
The Wizards come into this game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They ended the year on a 17-6 run to clinch the eight-seed. The Wizards have been the most injured team this year and have been hit by COVID-19 the hardest. Early in the season, they were forced to play two games with seven players. Neither of the teams featured Bradley Beal or Westbrook. Westbrook started off the season playing on two torn quads. Since his quads have healed he resumed to his form from his Oklahoma City days. He broke the Triple-Double record and now hold the most Triple-Doubles in league history, 183. The Wizards have also lost rookie Deni Avdija and starting center Tomas Bryant to season-ending injuries. Beal finished second in the league in scoring with, 31.3 PPG. Their biggest move of the season was the acquisition of Daniel Gafford at the trade-deadline. In order to beat the Celtics tonight, Beal and Westbrook will need help from either Rui Hachimura, Raul Neto, or Davis Bertans.
The Wizards, even with Beal having a tweaked hamstring the Wizards are hot and more consistent than the Celtics lately. The game will be close, but the Wizards should be able to upset the Celtics for the seventh-seed.
Regardless of who win between the Pacers and Hornets, they will not be able to get past the Wizards or Celtics. Both of these teams will be strong enough to defeat the Pacers or the Hornets for the eight-seed.